Debating Presidential Elections

14 May 2012

Debating Presidential Elections

KABUL - Concerns over the credibility of the electoral process and transfer of power in the presidential elections of 2014 brought together the two largest political opposition of Afghanistan.

The National Front of Afghanistan (NFA) and the National Coalition of Afghanistan (NCA) issued a joint statement on 30 April 2012 alleging the Afghan Government was personalizing the election institutions and engineering the date and outcome of the third presidential elections planned for 2014.

NFA is a joint venture between former first Vice President and member of Jamiat-e Islami, Ahmad Zia Masood, the founder of Jombesh Party, General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Muhammad Muhaqqiq, leader of one branch of Hezb-e Wahdat and a Member of the Parliament (MP) from Kabul. The NCA is led by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who was a candidate in 2009 presidential elections. Mohammad Younas Qanoni, MP, is another prominent leader of NCA.

Both opposition coalitions have demanded amendments in the Electoral Law and the law defining the Organization and authority of the Independent Election Commission (IEC). They would prefer to see computerization of the electoral process including the voters list, and are demanding an active role for the international community, particularly the United Nations in monitoring the electoral process.

“It is significantly important that United Nations monitors the elections in Afghanistan at least for another two rounds and help institutionalization of democracy in Afghanistan,” said Ahmed Zia Masood, the leader of NFA.

The NCA spokesperson, Sayed Aqa Hussain Fazil Sancharaki, wants to see the presence of United Nations in the Election Complaint Commission (ECC), monitoring the electoral process to ensure transparency and fairness and the provision of technical assistance for the smooth conduct of upcoming elections.

In addition, both the coalitions have similar stance on the idea coined by President Karzai of holding the presidential elections one year earlier than stipulated in the Constitution. Their joint statement says holding presidential elections in 2013 is against Clause 67 of Afghan Constitution. The joint statement claims the only way this could be regarded as constitutional would be if the President resigned.

“In case the elections take place in 2013,” said Sancharaki,“the President should resign from his office at least three months prior to the elections and an interim government should be set up to administer free, fair and transparent elections.

The political manifesto of both the coalitions, NFA and NCA also calls for decentralization of power, a parliamentary system of government for the promotion of political partnership among all ethnic groups, and for the election of all provincial governors.

“We want more power for provincial governors and provincial councils” said NFA leader, Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq in a public gathering in Shiberghan. “Provinces should have the power to devise development projects for roads, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure construction,” he said. .

Both coalitions have separately started initial preparation for the upcoming presidential elections. However it is unknown whether their current partnership on the issues of elections would end in a joint move in the upcoming elections or not.

“There hasn’t been any discussion over joint candidates,” said Sancharaki adding that they don’t know who the potential candidates are. “For any such agreement, NFA should prove their formal opposition status because some of their leaders were partner of the current government and later split due to differences with President Karzai.”

By UNAMA Kabul